Modernist Jesus vs. New Testament Jesus, Part 7
The creator of the Latest Real Jesus continues to confuse MAGA Jesus with biblical Jesus and argue that his Real Jesus would be appalled by…
7. The idea that humankind stands condemned before God and deserving of God’s wrath and eternal conscious judgement, requiring the death of Jesus to fix it.
You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. (Mt 5:21–22).
I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. (Mt 8:11–12).
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt 25:26–30).
Again he said to them, “I go away, and you will seek me and die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” Then said the Jews, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Even what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge; but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he spoke to them of the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” (Jn 8:21–29).
With the exception of two passages, literally every mention of hell in the New Testament comes from the lips of Jesus himself. He is the one who warns of the worm that does not die and the fire that is not quenched. He is the one who says to the Pharisees “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Mt 23:33). The proposition that Jesus does not warn us that something is dreadfully wrong and that he is not here to save us from it by his death and resurrection requires flatly rejecting the core of his message to his apostles again and again and again. Three times he tells them that he is going to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. And when he does so, he commands them to go out into the world and proclaim forgiveness of sin in his name flowing from that event. The core memory every community the apostles found centers around the Eucharist celebration and Jesus command to celebrate his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.But here’s the thing: the early Church does not see Jesus dying to save us from his Father. They see him dying to save us from our sins. And it is our sins that damn us because we are punished by, not for, our sins. The apostles stress that God “overlooks” our sins. Nor do they see the Father longing to damn us and, at the last minute, fixating on Jesus as an even more attractive victim for his sadistic cruelty who somehow slakes his thirst for our blood with his own and calms the old fellow down so that, if we say the right magic words, he has to let us into heaven. All that is absurd.
It is the Father, loving and pitying us and willing our happiness, who sends the Son. Everything on God’s part is love for us. It is we who contribute the lash, thorn, and nails to the Incarnation, we who desire him to suffer, we who put him to death. We are given a free choice about how to receive perfect self-giving love and what we choose to do is horsewhip him and howl with laughter at the crown of thorns on the victim of shock and blood loss before we pound nails through his wrists and feet. We ourselves make clear what sort of creatures we are and how desperate our plight is. We render the verdict on ourselves.
So Jesus says, “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (Jn 3:17–21).
In short, the nature of judgment is that it is self-inflicted. God is who he is and goes on being who he is through all eternity. He does not change. He is love. But we can change, either conforming to that love or hating it and willing enmity to it. What we will ourselves to be in response to him is the judgment. Those who reject him go on being loved by him because he is love and does not change. But they make themselves to experience that love as torment. So the Church teaches that hell is the “definite self-exclusion” from the society of God and the blessed.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not desiring that for any of his creatures, took into account all our evil choices and, wrought the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son so that we might, if we choose, overcome our fallen brokenness, receive his divinized humanity in the sacraments, and participate in his divine life. Everything on the side of the Blessed Trinity wills our good, not our damnation. If any are damned (which we don’t know) it will be in spite of his will to save them, not because he desired their damnation.